Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Juxtaposing the past and present for a new way of seeing

Wonderful watercolors and oil paintings by Sanjay Bhattacharya allude to dual nature of realities, simultaneously evoked by quaint architectural elements such as old, empty houses. They’re of immense interest to him, as they tell the tales of a bygone era – the people who lived, who shared, fought and loved there.

There’s a peculiar residue of color and texture in their slowly decaying walls, when one closely observes them. One can notice dark bedrooms carrying dressing table, chairs, old style table, or bedstead with ornately carved head-board set placed against sunrays seeping through in some of the artworks. Not sticking to empty houses, he has painted the emotions of those who occupied them like a mother carefully combing her daughters' hair.

Born in 1958 in Kolkata, he did a Diploma (Fine Arts), Government College of Art & Craft, Kolkata (1977-82). Curiously albeit not surprisingly, for the restless soul in him, school was probably the most boring place he ever visited. He never really relished it, at least during his childhood when he was more intent on reading books and imbibing knowledge through informal studies.

Many of his works revolve around the lives of families from lower rung of the society, barely surviving.  He has also done realistic portraiture, including that of India’s late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and India's only Air Marshal Arjan Singh. The artist is equally fascinated by the city of joy, Kolkata – its streets, people, sound and a touch of nostalgia like the faded British grandeur.

Summing up his processes and philosophy, Sanjay Bhattacharya has stated, “For me, subject, composition and backdrop, become the idea of an artist’s landscape, so what I see is a juxtaposition of many elements from the past and the present to create a new way of seeing. This theme is about that, albeit through the element of abstraction, I’ve left many layers open to interpretation for the viewer to decipher, and also to respond to.”

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